Dark Rift, one of the first fighting games to land on the Nintendo 64, is enjoying an unexpected revival. 3D Fighter is listed on Steam and will be released on PC shortly.
Developed by Kronos Digital Entertainment, Dark Rift launched on the Nintendo 64 in July 1997 and came to PC later that same year. The game was originally developed for the Sega Saturn, but the project was moved to Nintendo’s new console after the Saturn failed. Although it received mediocre reviews upon its release on the Nintendo 64, the fighter was praised at the time for its impressive 3D visuals and 60 frames-per-second gameplay.
Dark Rift is the sequel to Kronos’ first 3D fighting game, Criticom, which launched in 1995 on the original PlayStation. Dark Rift takes place after the events of Criticom, and gameplay changes in multiple dimensions. In the Nintendo 64 sequel, there is a neutral, dark, and light dimension, each of which holds a third of the game’s MacGuffin, the master key. The titular dark rift is the portal between these parallel dimensions. Once the Skeleton Key is reforged, the true center of the universe, the so-called Vortex, reopens and grants “immeasurable power” to those who enter using the Skeleton Key. It sounds a bit like The Legend of Zelda and the franchise’s A-force.
The game features eight playable characters representing one of the title’s three dimensions, as well as two hidden characters that unlock as fighters progress through the game’s single-player story mode. The Nintendo 64 and PC game also includes a two-player mode and a training mode. Dark Rift differs from many other fighting games in that matches revolve around best-of-five rounds rather than the more common best-of-three rounds.
During development, Kronos Digital Entertainment used motion capture technology for Dark Rift’s animations. This led to the game being praised for its visuals, drawing comparisons to Sega’s impressive and long-awaited comeback Virtua Fighter. Special moves and chain combos are prominent features of the game’s combat mechanics, although some critics have criticized the combo system as being too difficult to implement.
Given that the game has been released for over 25 years, the hardware requirements listed on Steam are minimal. PC players only need Windows 7, 8, 10 or 11, a Celeron processor or better and 512 MB of RAM.
Dark Rift is listed as “coming soon” for PC.